CEOs See U.S. Economy Gathering Momentum, Survey Says

By Agence France-Presse Corporate leaders expect the U.S. economy to gather steam over the course of 2004 as their companies boost hiring and capital expenditures, a survey showed June 3. The Business Roundtable's Economic Outlook Index, based on the survey of top U.S. executives, rose to 96.5 in June from 94 in March. On average, the CEOs expect real economic growth to be 3.7% in 2004, in line with the projection made in March. Some 38% of CEOs projected job increases in the next six months -- compared with 33% in December who expected higher employment. "America's CEOs believe that the U.S. economy will continue to strengthen steadily over the next six months," says Hank McKinnell, chairman of Business Roundtable and chairman and CEO of Pfizer. "Along with a continued rise in capital spending and a high level of sales, CEOs expect steady employment gains over the next six months. Our economy appears to have reached a self-sustaining phase of expansion." The survey also found that the vast majority -- 88% -- expected higher sales at their company in the next six months, while just 4% anticipate lower sales. In March, 88% expected higher sales and 1% expected lower sales. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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